Hi Friends! This has been a super busy day – mentally exhausting at work, the only night that I didn’t have to be somewhere so I had tons of stuff to get done that I haven’t been able to get to all week. I planted some mint in pots on my deck, washed a big sinkful of dishes (uggghhh), and of course, watched the thunderstorm, did some reading/homework, and now I’m really pretty tired. But I’m also really keyed up…in fact, I’m downright hyper. So I want to finish up my discussion of self-care (for now) with the technique called Progressive Relaxation. It seems appropriate because I’m pretty sure I will need this tonight, and it’s a really great way to indulge yourself and get some really good sleep. And we all remember how important good sleep is to our bodies and our health, right?
The nice thing about Progressive Relaxation is that you can actually use it when you just want to renew yourself during the day, too. It’s not only for helping you drift off at night. This technique is useful when you need to calm a child or someone else, too. I remember when I used to work with disabled adults in direct care, we used Progressive Relaxation as a way to de-escalate behaviors, and it was very effective in those types of situations as well.
So, here’s the technique…remember, your goal is to totally relax your muscles. This is a physical technique as much as a mental one. Follow along:
- Lie flat or recline in a chair. Make sure you are comfortable.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe deeply, in through your nose – out through your mouth. Count to 5 while inhaling, hold for 2, then exhale 5.
- Keep breathing deeply for a couple minutes, until you are able to focus only on your breathing.
- Now, clench all the muscles in your face – squeeze your eyes tightly, clench your jaw, purse your lips and hold for 10 seconds. Focus on your beathing while you are tightening your muscles.
- Relax the muscles in your face. Really focus on making sure they are completely relaxed. Keep breathing.
- Now tighten your neck and throat muscles for a count of 10. Stay focused on keeping your facial muscles relaxed and keep breathing.
- Relax your neck and throat. Stay focused. Relax completely.
- Now clench your shoulder muscles. Continue to focus on the muscle groups that you’ve already clenched and released. Focus on your breaths.
- Do this with every muscle group. Next your arms, then your abs, hips, legs, feet, etc. Continue clenching each area, then releasing, always focusing on the previous areas, keeping them totally relaxed. Breathe.
- Once you have worked your way from head to toe, remain in your relaxed position. Focus on breathing and completely relax your muscles. Do not allow any area of your body to be tense. You may doze off during this technique. A little power nap is always refreshing, but if you are doing this at work during lunch or before you have to be somewhere, you may want to set a little timer or alarm, just in case.
- As you practice this technique, you will find that it becomes much easier. You won’t need to focus so hard on staying relaxed or on regulating your breathing.This is an awesome way to unwind after a stressful day, or anytime you feel your energy lagging. I recommend that you do this every single day. Meditation is so beneficial – it keeps us energized and youthful, focuses our thoughts and energies, and reduces stress levels – all vital to good health and peace of mind. I hope you will all give this technique a try. Let me know what you think! Leave your comments below…
Here’s to a relaxing night’s sleep!